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State v. Horskins

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

January 16, 2015


Assigned on Briefs August 05, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 1104496 W. Mark Ward, Judge

James F. Schaeffer, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey Horskins.

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Doug Carriker and Charles Summers, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.



I. Background

The victim, Nicole Sumlin, is Defendant's ex-girlfriend, and Defendant is the father of two of her five children. Defendant and the victim had lived together but they were not living together at the time of the offenses in this case. Prior to the present offenses, the victim had sought several orders of protection against Defendant. The victim testified that on January 29, 2005, Defendant choked her and threatened to kill her while she was pregnant with their son. He also had a knife. The victim sent her oldest son to a neighbor's house to call police. Police arrived, took a report, and the victim filed for an order of protection against Defendant.

The victim again filed for an order of protection against Defendant in 2008 while the victim was pregnant with Defendant's second child. At the time, the victim was living with her mother and stepfather. Defendant had broken the windshield of her friend's car, and he called threatening the victim. The order of protection was granted for one year. After the order expired, the victim did not seek to renew it. The victim filed for another order of protection on April 28, 2010, because Defendant reached inside the driver's side window of her car, grabbed her hair, and punched her when she and her stepfather attempted to return some of Defendant's belongings to his mother's house. The victim admitted at trial that between 2008 and April of 2010, Defendant would come to her residence to babysit the children while the victim worked. The victim ceased all communication with Defendant after April 28, 2010. She still allowed Defendant to see his children through his family members. The victim testified that the order of protection sought on April 28, 2010, was not granted because she and Defendant did not appear in court due to their son being hospitalized for several weeks. The victim re-filed for the order of protection on July 20, 2010, because Defendant was stalking her and making threatening phone calls. The victim was granted an "ex parte order" until a meeting on August 18, 2010, to discuss a permanent order of protection with a commissioner.

On August 16, 2010, the victim's oldest daughter got out of school at approximately 2:15 p.m. and went home. While she waited for her mother and siblings to get home, Defendant called the house and asked for the victim's whereabouts. After the victim's daughter hung up, she saw Defendant walking around the house, twisting door knobs, and trying to get inside the house. At one point, Defendant knocked on the daughter's window. He then left. Defendant called later that night, and when the victim answered the phone, Defendant said: "I'll love you to death, " and he hung up. The victim testified that she had previously seen Defendant and a friend in a red Ford Expedition backing out of her driveway.

Concerning the present offenses, the victim testified that Defendant called her at work at least fifteen times on August 17, 2010, between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. when she left work to check her oldest daughter out of school early because her daughter was sick. The victim also noted that it was her and Defendant's son's fifth birthday. She then picked up her "baby girl" from daycare, and they arrived at the victim's cousin's house at approximately 12:30 to 12:45 p.m. to get the younger girl's hair braided. The victim and her daughters remained at the cousin's house until approximately 2:00 p.m., and they left and went to their home located on Southington Avenue. The victim asked her oldest daughter to go outside and get some laundry from a shed, and the victim watched television for approximately thirty minutes. Her three sons were still at school. The victim got up to look in the living room closet for a locking gas cap for her mother's car. The victim stated that she had been driving her mother's car because her own car had been vandalized by someone who put sugar in the gas tank.

As the victim was looking for the gas cap, she noticed that all of the clothing and coats had been pulled down in the closet. She began shifting through the garments and found Defendant hiding in the closet wearing latex gloves and holding a large knife from the kitchen. The victim then ran out of the house screaming for help and for her daughter to call 911. As the victim made it to her front yard, Defendant grabbed her from behind with his left hand and "plunged" the knife into her chest with his right hand. The victim's children and her neighbor, Lasonya Thomas, were standing outside at the time. The victim grabbed the blade of the knife and "was able to wiggle it loose." Defendant continued to chase the victim, and the victim grabbed the knife again and broke the blade. The victim ran across the street to Mrs. Thomas' yard, and Defendant continued to pursue her. The victim testified that Mrs. Thomas attempted to get between the victim and Defendant. The victim "just swung the blade and it cut [Defendant's] arm." The victim then went inside Mrs. Thomas' house, and Mrs. Thomas called 911. Defendant went back to the victim's house.

When Defendant arrived back at the victim's house, her daughter was inside with the door locked attempting to call 911. Just as the 911 operator answered, Defendant kicked in the front door and demanded to know "where the keys was." As Defendant searched the house for the keys, the victim's daughter ran outside and across the street to the victim. Defendant later emerged with the victim's keys and wallet, and he left in the victim's mother's car. Emergency personnel arrived, and the victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The victim's wounds were treated, and she was released from the hospital that same day.

Defendant called the victim's cell phone at approximately 9:00 p.m. on August 17, 2010. Because the victim did not recognized the number, she answered the phone, and Defendant hung up. The victim used an application on her cell phone called "Privacy Star" to trace the phone number. When Defendant called a second time, the victim answered and told Defendant that she knew it was him calling. The victim gave her stepfather the address that pulled up with the phone number, and he drove to a hotel and located Defendant. Police also ...

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